Unity is plural, and at minimum two.” (Buckminster Fuller)

A real domestic living space doubles as a gallery presenting the simulation of a domestic living space, in which an interface is created between biological and digital forms, producing a symbiotic network of relations that evolves in linear time and curates itself as a partly disembodied organism, a distorted reflection. 

This organism exceeds its own boundaries to implicate all observers in the production of an auxiliary network of relations, one that becomes sharply aware of its own proliferating and conscious nodes: decentred subjects, alienated from one another in ‘withdrawal’. This partly embodied organism recognises itself in its distorted reflection, but cannot yet fathom the steps necessary to dissolve the mirror separating the two.

ALTR are here to help dissolve that mirror by first assembling it for us.

From the distorted reflection comes a queasy familiarity with porous worlds that we already inhabit and a challenge to the horizontal ontology of objects. Any actor in any network forced to confront its own image (distorted or otherwise) creates a live rupture in that network - a ‘depunctualisation’ that severs existing relations, collapses the node, and exposes the heterogeneity of the embodied organism.

ALTR are here to help reconstitute that organism by first disassembling it for us.

They tell us that the “digital junkyard” of the WWW is ripe for plundering. Besides obtaining free “junk”, “extra-digital forms” are needed to make new models of existing objects. Imperfect prototype digital representations are just one essential stage in a continuum of endless becoming, which ALTR believe organic beings must pass through before we evolve into purely digital forms.

In this respect, we stand at a critical threshold in the history of the known universe. Navigating the near future will require imbuing virtual realities with true hydraulic heft and mass, lest our muscles waste away underemployed in orbit around the dead Earth. Sperm is hopeless in zero-g. Material environments will become increasingly indispensable, even as they are eviscerated, before we leave them forever.

ALTR are here to help eviscerate these environments by first embodying them in the digital realm.

Inanimate virtual objects are animated by input from sensors monitoring organic processes, with the ensuing hybrid representations subject to autonomous, utilitarian choices free of artistic curation. Previously hidden relations are ‘performed’ and visualised; simultaneously, a new organism is born and exists as long as the relations cohere. The embodied part of this organism consists of living organic cultures bathed in light output from a projector displaying those same virtual objects on the other side of the mirror. The interface is its own explanation. 

Present everywhere in excess, like death, furnishing the furnishings, inert foam stands in stark contrast to the frothing potential of the networked organism. An expanding form frozen in time, it is both a warning about future stasis and a herald of the abstract made concrete.

Digital evangelists may insist that organic, analogue biologies are reducible; ALTR may agree, but there is also a spark animating their vital organs. 

ALTR seek to reconfigure our present understanding of a decaying future by infecting the digital with the biological, *in order to show* that vice = versa.

In their quest for a better future, ALTR choose to bypass the Uncanny Valley, arriving instead at the Unheimlich Node - whose meanings and implications oscillate at the periphery of the Real. 

Text by Guy Veale

A collaboration with Matt Zurowski and Caitlin Dick

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